A simple Google search of the phrase “Agile Marketing” will return different definitions. The common theme is the reference to its links history to software development teams.

What is Agile Marketing?

A simple Google search of the phrase “Agile Marketing” will return different definitions. The common theme is the reference to its links history to software development teams. While Agile gained its popularity in the software industry due to its success, the values, principles and practices had long before been around in Lean manufacturing practices. The primary purpose of marketing is customer acquisition, conversion and retention. It is important to understand that Agile marketing is an approach that aims to achieve this. So how is Agile marketing different?

Agile marketing introduces an iterative approach to campaign planning and execution. It highlights the importance of teamwork, transparency, open communication and collaboration. While this might sound simple, Agile teams in IT have uncovered the needed processes. Some of these interaction-based processes gave birth to frameworks like Scrum and Kanban, which have been successful in IT software teams. Marketing teams have started adopting Agile, which lead to the birth of Agile marketing.

At the core of Agile marketing is the creation of a culture that enables high performance in campaign planning and execution, which values iterative responses to customer feedback and market trends. It is this that enables Agile to deliver a substantial competitive advantage.

Why does marketing need Agile?

Companies that failed to adapt to changing market trends are no longer in existence. They paid the price for being slow in responding to changing customer expectations. This explains why marketing teams need to be nimble and Agile.

CMOs and marketing leaders are focusing their attention on improving customer experience and this requires collaboration between marketing and other customer-facing teams. Companies like Kodak and Nokia failed to adapt to changing customer expectations. This resulted in them being overtaken by more innovative and Agile competitors. The pressure to measuring the performance and effectiveness of marketing can be intense. Hence, there is increasing pressure on the credibility of marketing spend.

The Benefits Of Agile Marketing

Customer Experience

Agile practices focus on providing the customer with the highest possible value. Team’s campaign task allocation and execution focuses on feedback from customers. Core principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation improve customer experience by enabling systemic engagement between marketing and other customer-facing teams. This enables a shared purpose with a focus on listening and adapting to your customers needs.

Marketing is not alone in the quest to improve customer experience.

Faster Task Execution

Scrum lets you do twice the work in Half the Time, according to Jeff Sutherland. Planning meetings and other Agile processes and tools creates a high performance atmosphere which enables marketing teams move faster while being able to iterate and adapt.

Reduces office politics

“According to Peter Drucker “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, operational excellence for lunch and everything else for dinner”.

If implemented the right way, Agile will expose team dysfunction and cultural issues. The benefit of this happening is that it presents you with a problem that you can focus on solving. The solution is that Agile practices enable a culture of teamwork and collaboration. It fosters self-organisation by empowering and trusting teams. Done right, Agile creates Psychological safety which is a prerequisite for success.

How is Agile Marketing Scrum Different?

There is a lot of debate about whether Scrum is a project or process management framework. Although Scrum is the most popular Agile framework in IT software teams,  and was not created for marketing teams, some of its practices are applicable. Scrum is the most popular and most widely-adopted Agile process. Scrum for marketing teams is different because marketing teams do not deliver software. The skill distribution and cultural dynamics also differ in marketing teams, as compared to software ones.

How Agile Marketing Scrum will help you?

Transitioning to Agile marketing is not easy, although the benefits outweigh the cost. Teams that transition to Agile marketing experiences the following benefits:

  1. Improved task completion rates.
  2. Increased collaboration.
  3. Improved stakeholder alignment and satisfaction.
  4. More flexibility and better adaptation to change.
  5. Increased employee engagement, creativity, innovation and productivity.

What’s so bad about applying Agile Marketing Scrum?

Agile frameworks like Scrum were developed for IT software teams by default. Marketing were teams that appreciate this fact understand that Scrum for marketing is different.

Scrum is a project management framework that aims to deliver working software. The planning and execution of the delivery happen in iterations known as Sprints. Marketing by nature is an ongoing endeavour that is subject to external dependencies. We do not deliver working software and cannot maintain Sprints due to these dependencies. Applying Scrum to marketing as instructed in the Scrum guide is a recipe for disaster. But why, then, are marketing teams adopting roles like “Scrum-master” and “Product-owner”? Why are marketing team making such mistakes? Some teams failed because they hired an Agile Coach with IT experience.

We can work with you to adapt the Scrum framework to the context of your team structure and culture. This will help your team improve the speed of your marketing planning and execution.

Is Agile marketing a fad?

Agile marketing is a fad if the practices and principles behind it were new, but they are not. In 1986 Harvard Business Review published an  article titled “The New New Product Development Game”. This articles created the foundation for the Scrum framework in IT.  Agile also borrowed some of its practices from Toyota’s Lean manufacturing. This rich history provides enough evidence that Agile principles are not a fad. Ignoring Agile in marketing will expose you to be overtaken by competitors

When adopting Agile marketing Scrum, is a Scrum master required?

The role of Scrum master is unique to Scrum teams in the IT software industry. With Scrum, it is important to understand the different context of marketing teams. So why do marketing teams appoint Scrum masters? It all comes down to the lack of Agile-qualified coaches with a marketing background.

How do you get started with Agile Marketing Scrum?

The first step towards the adoption of Agile marketing begins with reading the Agile Manifesto. I recommend the original 2001 Agile Manifesto and not the Agile marketing manifesto. This will help you understand the values and principles of Agile which you can then start to apply. I explained this in my book “Lean Agile Marketing: How To Become Agile and Deliver Marketing Success”.

The reality is, marketing team structure and culture are different to those in IT teams. Registering for the Scrum training with organisations like Scrum Alliance improve your general knowledge. However, how you apply your learning to the context of marketing is also important. This is the part you cannot learn in Scrum training. We can train you on how to adapt existing Agile frameworks to the context of your marketing team.

Contact us to learn more about how to apply Agile in marketing. Our Agile marketing training workshops and coaching will help you get started.